North Caddo is the (No.) 1

North Caddo is the (No.) 1

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North Caddo is the (No.) 1

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LAKE CHARLES

North Caddo fan Melba Collins pointed to the sky and mouthed, “thank you, Lord,” while championship game MVP Ledetriha “DeDe” Sheppard kneeled on the court where she’ll spend the next four years and cried.

Crying after you win the LHSAA Class 2A state championship game in dominating fashion is acceptable. The folks in Vivian are already preparing a parade, and the Sonic in town where Sheppard works, should be handing out Sonic Blast specials.

Running out to a big first-quarter lead, then turning back every Doyle rally, the North Caddo Lady Rebels finished a near perfect season with an 80-46 win over the Lady Tigers. It was the first time a girls basketball team from North Caddo captured the state’s top trophy.

“I’m gonna try not to cry, but this is something we planned for all year and did what we needed to do to get here,” said North Caddo coach Angela Channel, a Vivian native. “For a town of 5,000 people, and everybody wanted to shut the town down and come down here, I’m just speechless. They were planning a parade before we left because they were confident we would win this.”

The Lady Rebels found a spot in the LHSAA record books by winning by a 34-point margin. That mark eclipsed the 33 margin set by St. Helena in a 1982 contest.

Playing her best game in her final high school contest, Sheppard was brutal on defense and deadly with the ball in her hands. She put up 24 points after getting the game off to a rocking start with a 3-pointer.

“I love it down here and I wanted the people of McNeese to see they’re getting a great kid,” Sheppard said, characteristically looking at the floor. “We talked about it before the game that we weren’t going to change anything because no one can stop our defense.”

Doyle coach Guy McDonald knew he was in trouble when the Lady Rebels (34-1) opened the game dropping in shots from behind the arc. Forced to come out on the perimeter, Jasmine Thomas and Sumer Williams took over inside scoring 23 and 17 points respectively.

“We knew we had a daunting task coming in. When they had the ball, they had too much quickness and athleticism for us,” McDonald said. “We knew if we got behind it would be tough because they’re guards are so talented you can’t press them. I think the better team won.”

Doyle (27-6) was built on senior point guard Taylin Underwood, who tried to lift the team on her shoulders. Underwood scored 24 points, but didn’t get much support and was battered and bruised by game’s end.

“We knew they had great basketball players and had only lost one game,” Underwood said. “I had to rely on my teammates to get to the basket when I couldn’t.”

North Caddo’s only loss in the magical run came in the Bossier Tournament to Mansfield. Among the seniors playing their final contest were Shicarra Winslow, Kassie Harris (2 points) and Jessica Cox (3 points).

A few hundred North Caddo fans made the nearly four-hour trip south for the game, including several members of the Rebels boys basketball team, which will play in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.

The opening tempo played to the Lady Rebels’ advantage with Sheppard nailing a 3-pointer from the right wing to open the scoring. Williams followed with a 10-footer and Thomas added a 3 to stake the Rebs to an 8-0 lead before the Lady Tigers even drew a breath.

The lead would advance to 11-0 after a three-point play from senior Cox. Doyle finally got a bucket from Underwood on a layup three minutes into the contest. North Caddo continued to pressure the slower Lady Tigers and got the first-quarter advantage to 15 points with about a minute to play on a Thomas layup.

The game changed dramatically in the second quarter when neither team could hit a bucket. The shots that were falling for North Caddo began rimming out and the teams played to a 7-7 tie in the frame. But the Lady Rebs were in front 33-18 thanks to 12 points from Sheppard.

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